Mystic Pizza’s Secret to Your Next Big Marketing Idea

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I set out to prove that great marketing ideas are literally EVERYWHERE… you just have to be ready to receive them.

For this experiment, I went to YouTube and typed in, “full movie” to see what appeared.

One of the options was a 1988 film called Mystic Pizza with a very young Julia Roberts. She’s so young that she doesn’t even yet look quite like Julia Roberts, a phenomenon that happens frequently in Hollywood as actors continually improve or change their looks.

While Mystic Pizza has a loyal cult following of film buffs who swear it’s an awesome movie, I’m not so sure I agree. It’s about three girls on the brink of adulthood trying to figure out their lives as they serve up pizza in a little town called Mystic.

But that doesn’t matter. The experiment here is to see how many ideas I can find in one random 90 minute movie.

For this experiment I’m going to be an online marketer who teaches online marketing. I have a website, a list and I create products. I’m looking for as many new ideas – good and bad, there’s no judgement in the idea creation phase – as I can find.

I’ll go through the movie chronologically, just in case you want to follow along. Bonus points if you do this exercise first before reading the rest of this article. Just watch the movie with an eye for ideas and write them down as they appear.

The times noted will be according to the YouTube clock. If you’re watching this on DVD or any other streaming service, the times might vary slightly if the movies don’t start at exactly the same place.

Ready? Let’s see if this works…

0:02 – MGM Trademark – what if I have a trademark created that appears at the beginning of all my videos? Something as cool and memorable as a lion roaring?

0:06 – What does the Latin in the logo, ARS GRATIA ARTIS mean? “Art for art’s sake.” What if I add a Latin tag line to my logo? Too much? Or maybe it will make my visitors feel like they’re on the ‘inside’ with special knowledge and status. It’s worth considering.

0:24 – The Samuel Goldwyn logo is written as the audience watches. What if a headline appeared to be written by a ghostly invisible hand when a visitor gets to a website? Hmmm… Eye catching, but maybe too slow… worth testing.

0:35 – Montage of old childhood photos. People like to see childhood photos of celebrities and people they know. How can I use this in my marketing?

0:48 – Creepy Santa photo with kids. Hold a Christmas contest on social media for old creepy Santa photos, funny Santa videos, pets dressed as Santa, etc. Offer prizes that online marketers will love in order to attract the right audience and build my list.

1:05 – Dog photo. People love dog photos. Cat photos. Funny animal photos. Maybe incorporate animal photos into blogposts instead of those boring stock photos. Or how about a pet spokesperson for my business?

1:13 – This looks like a lousy photoshop job. Of course the movie is from 1988, so they didn’t have our technology for faking photos. How about a contest for worst photoshop photos found on actual websites?

1:27 – Green screen effect, looks like a photo of the three women were placed over a different background. Can I use a green screen in my videos to rev things up? For example, I’m explaining how to do a certain marketing technique while behind me wild rhinos are charging towards me and I’m trying to evade them… silly, yes, and potentially viral. Certainly, a lot more interesting than just me sitting at a desk looking into the camera because everyone does that.

Notice we already have 8 ideas and the film hasn’t even started yet. If you did this exercise on your own, I’m hoping at this point you already got a couple of ideas that I didn’t even think of. The beauty of an exercise like this is that everyone will get their own original ideas. And imagine what might happen if you had a mastermind group doing this exercise together!

Some of these next ideas are more like reminders of things I need to do in my business to improve the bottom line. It’s weird how watching a totally unrelated movie for ideas can incentivize me to work on my to-do list, too.

1:53 – A wedding scene, which reminds me that sometimes the best ideas are two other, disparate ideas put together. Like if I were to put marriage together with list building, how would that look? Maybe that I need to court new subscribers (not an original idea, but still a good one) into becoming my customers. If I think of it this way, I stop saying, “BUY BUY BUY” and instead focus on how I can help my readers and guide them into a relationship that benefits us both.

2:35 – The bride looks dazed and disconcerted as she walks down the aisle. She’s viewing the scene through a veil that makes everything look hazy and unclear, too. I wonder if this is how people feel when they get to my website for the first time? I hope not. I need to look at my website with fresh eyes and see what I can do to make it more welcoming and friendly to first time visitors.

3:57 – The bride is experiencing buyer’s remorse and she’s about to bolt from the church before she seals the deal to be married. Which reminds me that I’ve got too many people abandoning my shopping cart. Time to restate the benefits of owning the product right there on the checkout page, as well as the incentive for taking fast action.

4:21 – Whoops! The bride didn’t get a chance to run because she passed out, instead. This reminds me of zoom meetings and webinars where people ghost, essentially leaving the device running while they’re in another room.

Here’s an idea to get people to stay on webinars… every so often, provide one piece of a puzzle, like maybe a letter or a word. At the end of the webinar, they take all the letters or words and rearrange them to make sense, then email it in (or fill out a form) and the correct answers get something cool for free. This will raise the odds that they watch the entire webinar, increasing my likelihood of making the sale.

Yes, I got that idea from watching a bride faint. When you train your brain to look for ideas everywhere, you’ll be amazed what you come up with. Not all of it will be good (9 out of 10 of my ideas are never used) but sort through and you’ll find the gems.

4:50 – The guys are watching the sexy waitress, who happens to be a young Julia Roberts. A few years ago I added pictures of sexy women and one sexy guy to a sales letter. Those pictures had nothing to do with the product and I even admitted that in the sales letter and joked about it. But here’s the thing: I sold the HECK out of that product and many of the customers admitted they initially scrolled through the letter to see the pictures and then were captivated by the subheadlines and finally the sales copy. I need to try that again and see if it still works – I bet it does! (Note: I’m sure you realize these need to be wholesome sexy and not pornographic sexy.)

5:07 – Teeth in a glass. Seriously, I’ve got nothing except that dog that used to ‘take a bite out of crime.’ Is there a headline idea there?

I originally intended to go through the entire movie for this exercise, but we’re only 5 minutes in and we’ve already got several good or possibly great ideas we can implement in our marketing businesses.

And if you’ve been following along, then you’ve got a new skill you can use throughout your day. Just be looking for fresh ideas for your business everywhere and all the time. Be open to finding them, to making new connections in your brain, and to finding the silly as well as the serious. This one simple little twist to your thinking can sometimes grow your business exponentially, assuming of course that you implement your best ideas as soon as possible.

Before I close, here are two bonuses:

1: Throughout the movie they talk about the secret ingredient(s) in the pizza. Even though the word “secret” has been used and even over-used in marketing, my personal experience shows that it still works. If you can reveal ‘secret’ information that most people don’t have but want, you will do well no matter which niche you’re in.

2: If you watch this 1988 Mystic Pizza movie, look closely for an unknown actor named Matt Damon. This is his first ever movie role, performed when he was 18 years old and long before his iconic Bourne Identity movies. He’s got a grand total of two lines and a smirk and it’s worth seeing.

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